At 31 years, after what seemed like a lifetime wait, I stood at the UAE emigration counter waiting for the first ever chhaapaa in my passport allowing me to travel abroad. It certainly was a big moment for someone who had patiently waited for ten years ever since she got her passport. No, I am not the archetypal drooler who is enamoured by everything foreign. I simply love to travel.
In this week's edition of STREE: Top-paying jobs for women
At school I had idolized Phileas Fogg, the hero of around the world in eighty days, and prayed for such a trip to come my way. Later, while working as a sales executive, I envied the IT professionals who got plum jobs in exotic lands while I slogged to win sales contests only to fall short of the target for a Mauritius trip and getting Mont Blanc pens instead.
It was when my ten-year-old virgin passport came up for renewal that I decided to act and went on a family trip to Dubai.
I always had a recurring fantasy to set out on a backpacking trip with no plan and no return date in mind - an aimless travel according to my whims and fancies funded by work that I would find wherever I was. So two years later, I tweaked my fantasy to settle for a trip to Europe all alone.
I had friends in London, Scotland and Paris so those places were my obvious choice. Yet friends and family minced no words in expressing their disapproval about my 'lonely' travel. Despite my reassurances, they did not stop narrating horror stories of people getting mugged or losing their passport or getting sexually harassed. But I was firm.Text & Images: Krithi Bala